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History of the Museum
The Saratoga Museum is housed in the Saratoga 1915
Union Pacific depot
with the original dispatch room, and we have an extensive collection of Union
The museum was dedicated on July
In 1982, Union Pacific donated a
caboose for exhibition. In 1992, Union Pacific donated an 85,000 pound
refrigerated boxcar. The caboose and boxcar are located
on the Museum
For the last 26 years, the museum
has grown and acquired many interesting artifacts from our local area
around the state.
We have hosted many musical guests,
such as the Denver Symphony Orchestra, the Queen City Jazz Band, and the
Western Arts Trio, to name a few.
The Museum sponsors Annual Treks to places of historical value, like
Fort Steele, Fort Halleck, and many ranch tours.
Many of our programs are produced in cooperation with the
Wyoming Arts Council, The
Wyoming Council for the
Humanities and the
Carbon County Visitors Council.
History of the
Saratoga Historical & Cultural Association
In the early days the town of Saratoga was named Warm Springs,
but the name was changed in 1886. "Saratoga" the Indian word signifies
"place of miraculous water in rock".
In the Spring of 1975, a number of
local citizens of Saratoga were expressing interest in establishing a
museum for the preservation of the local artifacts from the settling of
the North Platte Valley. At the March meeting of the Chamber of
Commerce, the idea of purchasing the Hotel Wolf was discussed. Plans
discussed were to make the upper stories into a museum, with the Chamber
offices and tourist center on the ground floor. One thing that was
agreed upon...that a separate entity should be responsible for the
project and in no way involve the Chamber of Commerce organization.
At the same time in 1975, Mimi
Gilman was striving to develop an Arts Council group to sponsor various
performing groups. On May 21, 1975, the Saratoga Historical and Cultural
Association, Inc. officially came into being when 27 members signed the
Articles of Incorporation. Directors elected were President - Elva
Evans; Vice President - Robert Randall; Secretary - Debbie Chastain;
Treasurer - Mimi Gilman; and Dan Simmons, Dorothy Rowland and Don
Erickson served as board members.
In the following year an Arts
Council Committee was formed under the sponsorship of the Association. The next several years, the
Saratoga Historical and Cultural Association (SH&CA), in conjunction
with the Arts Council committee sponsored performances of the Denver
Symphony Orchestra, Magic Globe Players, Utah Symphony Orchestra, Queen
City Jazz Bank, W.C. Fields Film Festival, University of Wyoming
Symphonic Bank, recitals by Mary Jo Tynon (operatic singer), Western
Arts Trio, Wyoming Chamber Duo, Wyoming Chamber Orchestra, Albuquerque
Dance Theater, University of Wyoming Jazz Trio, Texas Opera Theatre,
Kottman String Ensemble and Flamenco dancer, Maria Benitez.
In 1978, the Union Pacific Railroad decided to abandon
its local Depot, and offered it to the Association, (as it was referred
to in those years). The town of Saratoga gave a free 50-year lease on a
parcel of land across from Shively Airport. On May 21, 1979, the Depot
was moved at at cost of $8,000 to its present location.
Mike Glode was in charge of
fund-raising and raised over $34,000. One very successful fundraiser was
-"Over the Hump" fund--a one time flat $250 (or more) donation
per person. A large stack of cards had been left at the depot,
proclaiming "DO NOT HUMP", which was train lingo for 'don't bang cars
into each other'. Contributors were rewarded with their own "HUMP" sign.
The list of contributors is on a plaque at the museum.
Another fund was the Old Baldy
Friends...an annual contribution of $100 was the required minimum
It was estimated $2,000 was needed
for foundation work, flooring, etc. The Union Pacific Foundation
contributed $2,500 towards the remodeling and a
$900 fund for the paint.
The Museum planned to open to the
public on Memorial Day, 1980, but was not operational until the
dedication on July 26 of that year. The dedication was part of the first
Fireside Folk Festival, which was held on the museum grounds. Over 1,000
people attended and participated in the games. Exhibitors were charged
$5 per table for presentation of their crafts. The Rev. Oral Roberts was
a guest of honor --even though part of the festivities was his arrest
and incarceration (for a short time only as a fundraiser). The Festival raised $8,000
for the museum.
In January 1981, the Gates Foundation of Denver, CO
granted funding for additional landscaping.
1980 - Elva Evans stepped down as
president of the
Board of Directors and took over as museum curator.
two years she directed the affairs of the museum as a volunteer.
B. Chastain replaced Elva as
president of the board.
1981 - the Depot Docents, who
hosted the museum and helped with the creation of the exhibits, elected
officers. The first "engineer" (later referred to as president) was Babe Reynders. At about the same time, the SH&CA board of directors voted to
add a representative from the Docent group and the Arts Council to the
The Katherine Bakeless Nason
Archaeology Exhibit was completed, thanks to Ada Jackson, Don Gilman and
the Nason family. The second Fireside Folk Fair was held on the museum
grounds July 25. This was the occasion of the World's First
organized by Rod Laird and a fish fry reminiscent of the old days in
Saratoga. The Arts Council sponsored the Chautauqua Festival, which was
busy reliving history from July 21-26, 1981.
1982 - The Union Pacific donated
one of its cabooses to the Association. Again, monies were raised to refurbish the seats and other items.
The third Fireside Fold Festival was moved to Highland Park (later named
Kathy Glode Park) and extended to three days of activities: a 10-K race,
Pony Express race, cutting horse contest, $15 craft booths, Grand
Encampment Opera House melodrama, a disco dance, a parade, games, and an
auction to benefit the library. The Lions Club recreated the historic
1983 - Mimi Gilman, serving as
director of the Arts Council, sponsored the performance of the
University of Wyoming Chamber Orchestra and the Western Arts Trio.
Proceeds were used to purchase a grand piano for Saratoga.
A ranch tour sponsored by the
Historical Association visited Ryan, Elk Hollow, Brush Creek and 1 Bar
Eleven Ranches. The Folk Festival was renamed "Craft Fair and Trout Fry"
and held July 16 & 17 in Highland Park.
Camp Paleo was established by the
Cherokee Trail Archeology Chapter on a
bluff overlooking the
Cedar Creek Ranch meadows and the North Platte
River. Debbie Chastain and Ada Jackson were hosts to visiting
aerologists. The Atlatl contests were once again very popular, as was
the Miss Carbon County contest.
1984 - The Saratoga Centennial was
celebrated with festivities July 15-21, 1984. The celebration included a
mustache judging, a parade with over 50 entries, and the Craft Fair
(moved to Veteran's Island). The Lions did their traditional fish fry
and the Fourth Annual World Open Atlatl Shoot was held across from the
Saratoga Inn. Camp Paleo was open for flint knapping and exchange for
archaeology information, with over 117 attending. Once gain, the
Chautauqua workshops were open with performances at the Range theater in
the evenings. Dedicated of the site of Saratoga's first building was
held at the Inn, with Dick Perue. The Range theater also had a
Hootenanny for three performances,
with about 30 acts participating.
July 18, the Saratoga Centennial Historic Fashion Show & Luncheon was
held at the Old Baldy club. Sponsored by the SH&CA, the committed
consisted of Gay Day Alcorn, Debbie Chastain, Susan Speer, and Gertrude
Herold. Local residents modeled the clothes from private collections,
representing the 1850s to the 1920s. The SH&CA annual trek August 3 and
4 began at the France Presbyterian Church, which is on the Historic
National Register, Carbon County Museum, Territorial Prison, and Ferris
Mansion. The following day, the Saratoga and Encampment museums and Ft.
Halleck were visited. Later in August, the Up With People performance
was sponsored by the Arts Council.
1985 - The 10th Anniversary of the the Saratoga Historical and Cultural
Association was celebrated with an open house at the museum. The SH&CA sponsored
the Community Trout Fry, Crafts Fair and Flea Market
Attendance was down according to Art Zeiger, who had been responsible
for frying the fish for the previous six years. The mines were shutting
down and the boom was over for the town of Saratoga.
Another Hootenanny, with three performances, was sponsored by the
Association and the Cemetery Board. The Atlatl
Press was established, with its first publication - Rod Laird's "How to
Make an Atlatl."
1986 - The seventh annual Folk Fair and Old Time Trout Fry was held on
Veterans Island, the sixth annual Work Open Atlatl Contest and Camp
Paleo were the highlight of the year. Once again, The
board felt that a full-time director was essential, but did not have the
funds to support the job.
1987 - Carbon County School District #2 Recreation
Board agreed to help
the SH&CA with funds for
a full-time director.
Sally Bocott was named
"Volunteer of the Year". SH&CA president, Dick Perue, presented Susan
Speer the "President's Award; for "outstanding board member". The Trout
Fry and Craft Fair was held on Veterans Island. The SH&CA sponsored a
trek to South Spring Creek along the route of the Cherokee Trail.
1988 - The SH&CA sponsored the Ninth Annual Folk Fair & Old Time
Trout Fry. Raffle Tickets were sold for $1 each for the Wyoming
Centennial Quilt. Peter and Ginny Storer opened their home, RiverBend,
for tours at $5 for non-members and $3 for members...over $4,000 was
raised. The Fine Arts Committee sponsored a performance of the
University of Wyoming Collegiate Chorale. Emphasis on works of local
artists were encouraged, with an "artist of the month". Sophia Swanson
was honored by the SH&CA for here contributions to the museum. Gay Day
Alcorn completed her history of the Hood House,
which had been restored by Debbie Chastain.
Previously, Gay had published "Tough Country", a comprehensive history
of the Platte Valley.
The Charles Wiant family donated an old log cabin which houses the Vern
Vivian blacksmith collection. The members of the board, under the
direction of Art Zeiger, replaced the chinking. Henry Flohr completed an
1/8 scale model of a Concord Stage Coach...all hand made ourt of walnut,
with brass fittings, and loaned it for display.
1989 - The SH&CA sponsored the annual Trek in June visiting the
Wallis Ranch, the ZN Ranch, the TA Ranch and the A Bar One Ranch, all
along the Overland Trail.
The Saratoga and Encampment Family
History edition was published by Portfolio Publishing Company and is
available for sale in our gift shop. (Contact the museum director to
order a copy.)
1990 - The State of Wyoming's
Centennial and the 75th anniversary of the fish hatchery. The
Lions Club hosted a fish fry at Veterans Island. A parade started in the
center of town and ended at the dedication of the
Kathy Glode Centennial Park.
The day began with a pancake
breakfast sponsored by the Boy Scouts and ended with a buffalo roast
with entertainment by the Arapahoe and Shoshoni dancers. The museum was
involved in selling tickets for the Centennial train rides, provided by
the Carbon County Centennial committee. The Platte Valley Players
presented a melodrama
"Lumber Jacks and Wedding Belles".
Peter Storer and Richard Buff
located and installed old barn wood to create the "Homesteader's Cabin'
display. John Gilman was commissioned to paint scenes out the "windows".
Debbie Chastain had an old sheepherder's wagon restored and donated to
1991 - For the annual meeting of
the SH&CA, "Pictures, Songs, and Stories of the American Cowboy' was
presented by Phil Janowsky,
a renowned cowboy poet and balladeer.
1992 - An 85,000 pound boxcar was
donated to the SH&CA by the Union Pacific Railroad. Two tow trucks
and a winch truck with a flatbed were used in the ten hour endeavor to
move the boxcar. The car was a "refer" - a refrigerated boxcar. It was
positioned on rails that had been previously installed with great effort
in the rear of the depot. At the same time, the bell from the Baggs
School was relocated to the museum.
David Cass presented the First SH&CA
Architectural Award to Gary Stevenson, editor of the Saratoga Sun.
Rod Laird published "Window in Time" with illustrations by John Gilman.
Five docents were awarded "Gold Spikes" for their contribution to the
museum: Lois Flohr, Helen Swanson, Ruth Doherty, Sophia Swanson and
Susan Speer. A major fund-raiser was a "Next to New" clothing sale,
which was held in the boxcar.
1993 - The annual Trek followed the
Overland Trail to Sulpher Springs, and attracted over 75 participants.
The museum was visited by 2,230 people representing 49 states and 11
foreign countries. Construction began on the "Pavilion", a 40-foot
octagon bandstand donated by the George B. Storer Foundation. The
pavilion was designed by Rick Morton of Boulder, CO, and constructed by
Speigelberg Lumber of Laramie, WY. Neergaard Masonry did the stone work
and John Anderson created the color design.
1994 - The pavilion was dedicated
on Friday, July 1. The University of Wyoming Brass Quintet performed and
the Saratoga Community Choir sang. Speeches and ribbon-cutting, free ice
cream cones, and balloons...all were festive. The pavilion was also used
by the Platte Valley Arts Council (newly formed and not related to SH&CA)
for performances during the July 4 weekend.
The trek to Ft. Steele was
highlighted by the commentary of Dr. Mark E. Miller, Wyoming's State
Archaeologist. The old town of Benton and the historic Savage Ranch were
also visited. The museum had over 3,000 visitors during this season. The
caboose and boxcar were freshly painted, the depot spruced up and new
landscaping with lots of flowers presented a welcome sight to the
To be continued...